Pandemic stories from Black students

Topics include the challenge of having to keep doing assessments and exams when routines are disrupted; the lack of study spaces and distractions while studying at home. They explain how Black Students Talk gives them a space to discuss mental health and feel heard.

Students from KCL's Black Students Talk discuss how coronavirus has impacted student life and how they've responded.

Video transcript

Speaker 1 - Sapphire

Hi, everyone, my name is Sapphire Francis. I'm a student here at Kings and I'm also a peer support facilitator for Black Students Talk. Today I'll be talking to you guys with some of my friends about what the experience has been like studying during a pandemic. For me, it's been quite hard as I'm someone who likes to keep themselves busy, i'm part of loads of societies, I work, I do uni, I go to church, it's been quite difficult being in the same space all of the time. And also having loads of the things that I enjoy about life taken away from me so abruptly. As a student life goes on, we're still expected to do assessments, we're still expected to sit exams. So it has been quite challenging to continue doing all of these things, when life isn't the same anymore. A lot of things have changed, and it has been quite difficult adjusting, and I'm sure my friends can actually say that they've had similar experiences.

Speaker 2 - Victoria B

One thing that I found challenging about studying during a pandemic was being able to minimize my procrastination and maximize my productivity. I feel like it was so easy for me to get distracted, especially because I was studying at home because of this whole Coronavirus period. And consequently, my work would therefore pile up. Over time, though, and I'm feeling optimistic for a new semester, I've been able to kind of figure out a new routine that kind of I feel would work for me better. And hopefully with that in place, my work wouldn't build up and become very overwhelming, and yeah, and will consequently help my mental health as well.

Speaker 3 - Serenna

I would say one of the hardest things I've found about trying to study during quarantine is the lack and loss of study spaces. My accommodation, they like closed all communal areas, and then they closed coffee shops because you know, lockdown, so, then I literally have nowhere to go. So that was really irritating because I can't study in the same place in which I sleep basically. And I was very much behind on a lot of my uni work as a result because I couldn't study.

Speaker 4 - Miles

The lack of stress release is a really big one for me. You know, I have my own personal goals, both physical and educational, and aspirational too, you know and it's really hard to maintain those things when, I mean, the gym is literally shut. But also when your schedule is really disrupted constantly, and the lack of routine, it really doesn't help maintaining good discipline, which you need to be able to get anything done in any kind of duress.

Speaker 5 - Victoria T

During the pandemic, my mental health has been pretty all over the place. There's been a lot of gloomy days, and it's been very difficult to not feel like I've been supported by my uni in any. I feel as though there's not much you can do about it. It's a bad situation regardless, but I definitely feel like a lot of things could have been handled a lot better. And it's been quite hard a lot of the time.

Speaker 1 - Sapphire

As we are living in an era of technology. I did also think it would be a great idea to get some of my friends’ responses online. Here's what some of them had to say.

[Text conversation as follows:]

  • Person 1 - Hey guys how have you been finding studying during lockdown?
  • Person 2 - It’s been hard and ghetto. I chose to live at home this academic year and it definitely adds to the stress and has ruined my mental health in a way.
  • Person 2 - Then because I can’t study in the library, I can’t see my friends at the library, so social media is the only way I can connect with my friends. There’s only so much social media I can take; I barely speak to anyone.
  • Person 3 - Yeah it’s difficult being in lockdown and not being able to socialist with our peers
  • Person 3 - then cos both my flatmates are white i find it hard being a black student specifically because i feel i can’t speak about everything on the news etc in depth to my non poc mates
  • Person 4 - I know that the wellbeing team is there for me to reach out, but I haven’t tried them. Mainly because I don't think they’ll do anything special for me. No offence to them.
  • Person 1 - I agree with you guys completely, have you heard of what Kings is doing to support us?

Speaker 1 - Sapphire

Students talk has given us the opportunity to meet and discuss how to be effective listeners, effective communicators talking about the stigmatization of mental health within the black community, and also our identity as black students. It's been really useful to have our voices heard, especially in a time where it's easy to feel like we've been silenced. It's been difficult to meet and connect with our friends and our peers. So spaces such as Black Students Talk are essential for times such as these and we really appreciate Kings providing these spaces, spaces that are created by black students for black students.